Monday, February 13, 2006

winter diving

Diving on New Year's Day with the "Dive Society", at White's Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea near Gloucestor.

Water temp was 41F, air a relatively balmy 27F. Four of the eight of us wore wetsuits, four dry. Wetsuit is okay for one dive--you may be cold when you're done but so what, you're done anyway. That is me 2nd from left.

They go out every Sunday starting January, in winter. I went again on Jan 8, but not since then. Wearing wet gloves I was fine on Jan 1, but hands were very cold on Jan 8. Don't know why. I do have "dry gloves" which attach to the dry suit and are warm. Next time. Fussing with all the gear in the cold before and after, and cleaning the gear at home later, is a lot of overhead for a small amount of fun. After the Jan 1 dive we had a cookout on the beach, and had a big gas burner to stand around while drinking beer and coffee, and eating hot dogs and cake--it was Don the dive leader's birthday. That was fun.

Visibility was for shit but that doesn't matter much because there isn't much to see in winter anyway. The fish are in Boca Raton playing canasta and the lobsters are out deeper. The dive leaders are always upbeat and emerge saying things like, "Have you ever seen so many flanged nudibranches!"

Lots of people get scuba certified locally but only dive in the Caribbean, because the viz there is fantastic, the variety of sealife is amazing, the diving itself is easy. The water is warm and clear so you don't need bulky suits to stay warm, or much weight to get you to sink.

Local divers joke that Caribbean diving doesn't build character. If being scared out of your fucking mind counts then I must have developed plenty of character because I have experienced panic twice and near-panic once by now. I suppose there is something to it. In Bonaire last year though diving four times a day, the word "insipid" crept in. Too much beauty, too much fabulousness? Do I prefer being cold and frightened?

I like diving locally because once you've made the initial investment of $23 million, it's cheap. Unless you go on a boat. I don't care if the viz is more than 10' because usually I'm close to the bottom looking at stuff nearby anyway. I can't bring myself to give a shit about nudibranches, and have no interest in photography which is a specialty the shops push as a means of selling you more gear. Everybody takes the same pictures below so I can just get copies.

I do it mostly because I like the sensation of floating in the silence, listening to my own breathing, and trying to maintain neutral buoyancy. Just being a neutral breathing unit, only kicking enough to move along, feels like a step back along the chain of evolution, to a more contented state of being, mindless yet still aware.

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